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MATTHEW BOURNE
Matthew Bourne OBE is widely hailed as the UK’s most popular and successful choreographer and director. Since its 9th November 1995 world premiere at Sadler’s Wells, Matthew Bourne’s breathtaking and sexy version of Swan Lake has become the longest running ballet in the London’s West End and on Broadway. Matthew is   a five-time Olivier Award winner, and the only British director to have won the Tony Award for both Best Choreographer and Best Director of a Musical.
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credits

MATTHEW BOURNE
director: Thomas Sanderson
starring: Matthew Bourne
screeplay: Hanna Meyer

special thanks: New Adventures
music: Ann Hell

Special thanks
NEW ADVENTURES


MATTHEW BOURNE

Firmly crowned as the undisputed king of dance theatre, Matthew Bourne’s powerful, provocative and totally original interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake turned tradition upside down and took the dance world by storm, dazzling audiences worldwide.
When Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake first appeared in 1995, some audience members were aghast to see male dancers replacing the delicate female swans in this classic tale of love and madness. For Bourne, the gender swap made sense. "Lots of people couldn't accept the concept of male swans. My first choice of designer turned it down, and potential sponsors refused to put up funding. Adam Cooper, the Royal Ballet dancer, took a huge gamble in agreeing to play the Swan. People assumed it would be a sendup, with men in drag. But – although I wanted quirky, funny elements and there is a scene that parodies classical ballet at its worst – I knew it had to be moving. It's been interpreted as a homosexual story, but that wasn't the explicit intention. The prince's relationship with the swan is more about a repressed young man's need to be loved, rather than about any sexual desire.

Nothing, though, prepared us for the incredible reaction to the piece when we finally got it on stage, and the subsequent West End, Broadway and International tours that followed. I guess the much talked about male swans and Lez Brotherston’s iconic design for them are at the heart of the continuing success of the piece. Nobody could imagine what a dancing male swan looked like. So that first appearance of Adam Cooper (who created the role of The Swan) was really the shock of the production. Here was a beautiful, wild, lyrical, menacing and totally masculine creature. The shock was that the idea worked. "

The Matthew Bourne Swan Lake is still phenomenally popular. How have the audiences changed over the years?
When we first performed the piece in the UK and Internationally, we regularly had “walk-outs”, usually from men who couldn’t handle the male swan dancing with The Prince. It’s really a duet about the need to be loved, not particularly sexual, but nevertheless, it was more than some audience members could handle. Others complained that it wasn’t the “real’” Swan Lake and their daughter, who went to the local ballet school, was in tears because she was expecting tutu’s and pointe shoes. As the piece has become more well known, thanks largely to word of mouth, the TV screening and a little movie called Billy Elliott, these problems have pretty much disappeared.

Gay and homo-erotic subject matter is more widely seen on our screens and indeed in the work of my company from The Car Man (2000) to the recent highly explicit gay relationships in Dorian Gray (2008) which happily toured to packed houses of over 140,000 around the UK. The only complaint being that “the music is too loud”!
The other wonderful thing that has happened is that my Swan Lake has for many years now been studied in schools as part of the GCSE and A level syllabus. This has introduced a whole new generation of young people to the work, who often tell me that they are “studying me”. Many of these young people now have trouble imagining the piece with female swans! Several dancers currently in my company first saw the piece as kids and were inspired to train as dancers. It’s this aspect of the production that is the least written about and the thing I am most proud of. The inspiration and message it gives to young people and the enormous new audience that it has introduced to dance and theatre.

Swan Lake is probably your most famous production. Has it ever felt like a millstone around your neck?
"Never! Swan Lake has been a great ambassador for the company throughout the World. I guess if it was the only successful piece in our repertory I would be more worried. It has actually paved the way for New Adventures to become a truly International company, with all our work now travelling around the globe. It continues to inspire and to bring new audiences to dance and for that we can all be proud. After 18 years it still holds a very special place in my heart.
"


ABOUT MATTHEW BOURNE
Matthew’s choreography for classic musicals includes Cameron Mackintosh’s productions of Oliver! (1994 and 2009 Olivier nomination) and My Fair Lady (2002 - Olivier Award), and the National Theatre’s revival of South Pacific (2002). In 2004 Matthew co-directed with Richard Eyre and choreographed with Stephen Mear the hit West End musical Mary Poppins for which he won an Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer, and two Tony nominations when it opened on Broadway.
His film work includes television productions of his stage work including Matthew Bourne’s Christmas (Channel 4, 2012), Swan Lake (1996 Emmy nomination and 2011 in 3D), The Car Man (2001), Nutcracker! (2003) and Sleeping Beauty broadcast by the BBC for Christmas 2013 prior to worldwide cinema screenings. Original work includes the John Betjeman inspired Late Flowering Lust (1993) with Sir Nigel Hawthorne. Matthew was the subject of a South Bank Show in 1997, a BBC Imagine… documentary in 2012 and a Channel 4 documentary Bourne to Dance which was broadcast on Christmas Day 2001. In 1999 he presented Channel 4’s Dance 4 Series. His production of Swan Lake features in Stephen Daldry’s hit film Billy Elliot.

Other theatre and dance work includes As You Like It (RSC/John Caird), Children of Eden (West End/John Caird), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Aix en Provence/Robert Carsen), The Tempest (NYT), Show Boat (Malmo Stadsteater, Sweden), Peer Gynt (Barbican/Yukio Ninagawa), Watch With Mother (NYDC), Boutique and The Infernal Galop (Images of Dance and The Sarasota Ballet), Watch Your Step (Irving Berlin Gala), French and Saunders Live in 2000 (UK tour), Dearest Love (Ballet
Boyz), and Highland Fling (Scottish Ballet).

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